The two tobacco companies dragging the government to court are not surprised that Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa said nothing on Sunday night about the tobacco ban when he announced amended restriction regulations.
The main focus was on the overall ban on the purchase and sale of liquor imposed under the amended regulations for level 3 of the state of restraint. When the level 3 regulations were announced at the end of May, the measures were relaxed, which included, among other things, liquor stores being able to sell liquor from Monday to Thursday.
Ramaphosa said Sunday night that the ban, which was effective immediately, was imposed because of the increase in alcohol-related medical incidents while pressure on hospitals and staff increased due to the dramatic increase in Covid-19 cases.
He did not say a word about the sale of tobacco and tobacco-related products.
There are currently two pending cases in the High Court in Cape Town and in Pretoria, where British American Tobacco (Batsa) and the Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita) are disputing the constitutionality of the regulations. Batsa’s case will be heard by a full bench of judges in the High Court in Cape Town on 5 and 6 August, while Fita’s appeal will be heard on Wednesday in Pretoria.
Mandlakazi Sigcawu, spokesperson for Batsa, said on Monday that they did not really expect Ramaphosa to say anything about the tobacco ban.
According to her, their case is continuing and the trial dates have been confirmed.
On June 1, Batsa filed an urgent application against dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, and the Covid 19 Command Council. He argues the ban is unconstitutional and should be reviewed and set aside.
Fita chairman Sinenhlanhla Mnguni has confirmed that their leave to appeal will be heard in the High Court in Pretoria on Wednesday.
Fita’s application comes after a full bench of judges on June 26 ruled that Dlamini-Zuma did have valid reasons for the tobacco ban during the state of restriction.
In the judgment, all of Fita’s arguments were rejected. The judges, led by Gauteng judge President Dunstan Mlambo, found that Fita did not take into account the context in which the regulations were promulgated.
“We are not surprised at all that the president completely ignored the tobacco issue. Before his speech, there was no rumor that the government had changed its mind in any way, ”he says.
Mnguni says all their attention is now on the appeal application and they are confident about the arguments they are going to put forward.